Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Was just catching up on my reading-Ohio recs at Family Search

Hey everyone! I was just catching up on my blog reading and caught this heads up from Linda at Flipside and thought you should know

Apparently Ohio death records, which had previously been accessible from the's pilot page (with full view of other records with similar search terms) have now been moved to a beta site. I ran into a similar situation a few months ago when the Philadelphia cemetery returns (titled as death certificates on the site because they are are mixed in with later death registers, etc.) were removed as part of a site change. I checked the beta site to see if they were there, and sure enough, they too are listed as part of the record collection on the beta site. So I was really excited to see them back and glad that the Ohio death records haven't been lost either. Check out the site and view the full record collection list to see what's available now

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back from Parke County, Indiana...

and it was your typical research trip complete with both pleasure and pain :)

The bad news was that two out of the three cemeteries I visited had fairly disappointing results. At West Union Cemetery, a medium-sized township cemetery, I was looking for the stone of Perry Williamson. His 1913 death certificate and obituary both say that he was buried there but after about an hour and a half of walking around and dodging bugs I was unable to find it. If he ever had a stone, and it's very possible that he never did, it's gone now or among the many broken and worn stones that are stacked up against two large trees on the cemetery grounds. Despite the fact that it was a public cemetery, no known documentation regarding lot purchases and/or lot maps exists so for now we'll just have to be satisfied with the belief that he's there somewhere. That doesn't really work for me but there isn't a whole lot I can do about it short of hiring someone to do one of those ground surveys to tell us where the people yeah, if there's anyone out there who would like to donate the funds for that be sure to let me know :)

So then I moved on to Causey Cemetery. Causey, unlike West Union, is a small family cemetery located on a very narrow gravel road and I went to the grounds armed with a copy of a photo of the stone I was looking for. So one would think I knew what I would find. You'd like to think that anyway. I was looking for the stone of the earliest confirmed Gilkeson ancestor-the one who first came to the Midwest from the East. John Gilkeson died in Parke County in the 1850s and his stone was photographed for a local transcription project that fizzled out before accomplishing very much, many years ago. I was estimating that the photo I had of his stone was about 10 years old, maybe slightly less. In the photo, the stone is in great shape, standing straight up, and is well readable. After two walk-arounds not finding it on my own, this is what I found

The stone is now about to fall forward, onto the writing. I don't know anything about cemetery restoration right now, but you better bet that I'm going to get to know a heck of a lot about it very soon. As a private family cemetery, the thought of lot maps and anything written down about who is in this cemetery is almost laughable so the thought that once that stone goes down no one will be able to know where on the grounds he is really makes me itch. At the rate this thing is going down, my son won't even be able to find it if he decides he'd like to see it a little later down the road. And that is not good. So I'm going to be trying my best to save this one and to get a project going to maybe get a full cemetery map done in the event that other stones go down.

So that covers the disappointments for the cemetery day. My final disappointment of the trip came the following day in the Courthouse. I spent the bulk of the day in the Clerk's Office going through the Probate records, doing inventory for the NGS HSC as well as looking up records for my own research. Parke County is fortunate to still have the complete probate packets dating back to the 1830s (though the county was formed in the early 20s, a serious fire around 1830 destroyed those precious early records) and they are in the back room in wall drawers. Did you catch that? "Wall drawers". This means that the packets were placed in the drawers decades ago and obviously the office has accumulated additional modern file cabinets over the years. Those new file cabinets need space somewhere in the room and guess where they went? Yep, about 1/3 of the old probate drawers are completely inaccessible because there are new metal file cabinets, filled with new case files, parked right in front of the drawers. They're filled, that means they are not able to be moved without a dolley and/or some very strong moving guys. And they're filled with NEW cases which means there really isn't any motivation for the staff to arrange any kind of help with moving them just to reach some old stuff that they don't use.

Remember Perry Williamson who I was searching for at West Union? He died in 1913 and I thought it would be great to take a look at his probate packet. Perhaps there would be a cemetery receipt included since several of the packets I viewed that day were filled with final receipts. Well, can you guess where the 1913 drawer is? If you guessed behind the file cabinets, you guessed right. It's on the bottom row all the way over to the right, directly behind the file cabinets. And to make matters worse, these probate packets have not been filmed, abstracted, indexed, nothing so they are basically dead to the world. They're obstructed and inaccessible with not much hope that they will be made available, at least not anytime soon. I'd love to say that some grad students could make it a summer project or something, but without a local genealogical society to back it up I don't see that happening.

And on that lovely note, I'll end the bad news. I'll post about the good news next...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Big score today...and a reminder

Hi all! Today I went down to my local Family History Center to view a couple of films that I ordered about a month or so ago. One roll was the index of marriages in Fleming County, KY up to about 1890 (up to the letter "h"). The other was the actual marriage book of returns for the county. Once again, I was reminded to never trust the index to be complete. I ran through it and did not see the marriage that I was pretty sure should be there so I swapped rolls and started going page by page through the record book. This wasn't too difficult because the registry entries were in the order they occurred starting with the earliest and worked forward in time so since I had a range I would know where to stop. Sure enough, the second to the last entry on one of the pages was my 1819 marriage return of John Gilkeson and Margaret Manly. Not much info was given but it was at least a confirmation that the marriage occurred in the place I thought it did. And it also served as my second reminder, in about a 2 month time period, that if at first you don't find what you're looking for in the index don't give up. Both today's record and another marriage record I found in a different location were not included in the indexes and were only found by going directly through the record book going page by page.

This can be tedious, but the payoff is huge. And really, what choice do you have? You either put in the time to find the record you need, or you don't, and then you have a big gap in your research. And really, I'm far too partial to having as much info as possible to have large gaps of the unknown in my info if I can help it. So don't give up so easily when searching for your records!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quick Moment for something Interesting

Ok, I've pretty much spent all day working on CD 2 of the NGS HSC and while doing the research for one of the lessons I came across an interesting reference. I've heard of locales holding get-togethers/reunions for Civil War vets throughout the remainder of the 19th century and into the 20th century and always thought about how great it would be to be able to have seen them in person. I would kill for time travel to check those things out but today I had a different thought on the matter.

In a county history of Parke County, Indiana there was a brief reference to a soldier's reunion occurring in the county seat, Rockville, in 1875 (no exact day was given). At that time, my only Confederate ancestor (at least the only one that I've found so far) was a fairly recent citizen of Parke Co., having migrated shortly after the war. Part of my assignment was to look at the list of 100+ neighbors living in close proximity to him at the time of the 1870 census; they were all from Indiana and most of the families that I've seen were from Union families. In the little snapshot of a list that I've compiled, Emsley McMasters and his family were probably one of only a handfull of former-Confederates in the area suddenly swarmed by several thousand former Union sympathizers and veterans. I've already posted about my theory that he was probably not a willing Confederate participant, but regardless, it makes me wonder just how comfortable he may have been on the day of that "reunion".

....Oh, and did I forget to mention who the honored guest of the Parke County event was? It was General William T. Sherman. Yes, that Sherman. The Gone with the Wind burning of Atlanta Sherman. Now that's the kind of guest that would make any former Confederate get the warm and cozies, right?


Just my random thought for the day. One of many anyway :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back from IGHR, whew!

Alright, this is just a post to say, sadly, that IGHR 2010 is now over. It was my first time there and it was wonderful. To anyone who hasn't been yet, I really do recommend it very highly. A listing of courses on the docket for next year can be found here

Also, some news for next year came down the grapevine while I was there. Apparently, they are going to try something new for the online registration process for the 2011 Institute to help with the overflow problem crashing their servers, as it did during the last registration. The idea is to stagger the registration by time so that not everyone is trying to register for all courses at the same time. In theory this could be a big help, but we'll have to wait until January to find out. Til then, I'll be studying up and finishing the NGS HSC course to get ready for Course 4: Advanced Methodology next year. That class actually had a pop quiz on the first day and a good deal of homework throughout the week. Whew! Gotta get myself as ready as possible for that one!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Heading to IGHR

Hey all, I'm getting to head off to IGHR for the week. I'll be getting together with the ProGen'ers tonight so I may see some of you then. Then tomorrow I'll be sitting in the course on Virginia Military Conflicts and their Effect on Migration, can't wait!

Be back next weekend

Friday, June 11, 2010

Possible new group brewing over on the message boards

Hey all, not sure how many of you are signed up for the Transitional Genealogist Forum and/or the APG public and private message boards, but over the past two days or so there has been a flurry of activity over discussions on how to attack the valuable substance of "Evidence Explained" by Elizabeth Shown Mills. The discussions are culminating in the beginning of a possible public list group discussion, a yahoo group specifically for the study of the book, and a separate study group loosely based upon the ProGen model. If you haven't signed up for any of the message boards, now may be a good time to do so and then throw in your two cents on the subject. It sounds like a good group for studying one of the most important aspects of our field may be coming soon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Just a quick reminder to everyone that registration for 2011 SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy) opens this Thursday (June 10th) at 9 am MST. The early registration fee for this year is $320 and it will be held at the Radisson in downtown Salt Lake City, UT. The Radisson is offering a special rate for those attending and, according to the UGA website, they will also be coordinating room-sharing. For more info on the Institute, see

Tom Jones will be teaching his Advanced Methodology course this year, and there are several locale-specific courses as well including a New England course with hands-on consultation time from NEHGS experts.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to go yet, but I'd love to. The cost for the registration, plane fare, hotel for at least 5 nights, and meals for all of those days, plus the fact that it's held in January while my son is in school and my husband will most likely be working 16 hour days makes it difficult for me to fathom an attempt. However, I'm working on a plan...I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to come up with something before Thursday because like IGHR, registration for SLIG fills up fast. So if you have even the slightest desire to go, you'd better hop on the 'puter and register early.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Happiness is staying busy

I've been feeling a little like a chicken with its head cut off lately with so much work. I've been working on two ProGen assignments, editing group members' research reports and figuring out what to do for the big final assignment, continuing work on an ancestry project for my aunt's DAR application, and continuing what I can on CD 2 of the NGS HSC course. Fortunately, most of the assignments for the CD are things that need to be done elsewhere (visiting courthouses, making a cemetery map, ordering church record film/visiting church record repository, etc.) so there's only so much I can do here. I am still working on the Census Analysis and Migration assignment though.

So on top of all of this research and paper work, I'm very happy to say that next weekend is the start of the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University in Alabama! I know several of us registered back in January and it's almost time to head out. I'm flying down next Sunday and the course will last until the following Friday. There were a ton of courses to take, they all sounded great, but I opted for the course of Virginia and its military and migration. Virginia is such a feeder state that I felt it was imperative to know more about what was happening within its borders at a time when so many of my own ancestors were living there and what was going on that could have impacted their decisions to move out when they did. This will be my first year at IGHR and I can't wait.

Another bit of great news is that the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has extended the early bird deadline for registration to this year's conference in Knoxville, TN. You can take advantage of the savings as long as you register prior to June 21st. More info can be found here

The last bit I wanted to share was a great article for anyone interested in North Carolina research, especially during the Civil War. The article is from "The North Carolina Historical Review" (January 1984) and is entitled "Neighbor against Neighbor: The Inner Civil War in the Randolph County Area of Confederate North Carolina". It's a fascinating yet sometimes horrifying article about a pro-Union, anti-slavery majority in a Confederate state. I ordered this article to help me gain some perspective on my McMasters family who was living in Randolph County during the War and promptly left immediately after. It's no wonder. If things were bad for the inhabitants of that area during the War, it doesn't sound like it was any better there after. The appeal of land in a land in Indiana that hadn't been touched by the War would have a strong pull to a family in danger of losing everything they had and surrounded by anger and death. This article would be interesting to anyone with North Carolina ancestors, but also to those wanting to know more about the inner struggles going on during the War. We all have Civil War connections and getting a glimpse of what the people living through it dealt with on a day to day basis can be vital to understanding the context of their society. If you'd like to take a look, you can order the periodical from or order it through your library's ILL